A place to rethink yourself as a teacher, person, student…

The week  in Glasgow is almost over and I have had the chance to see a beautiful city, to listen to amazing talks and to be proud of being the future generation of English language teachers. 

But first things first. Glasgow welcomed us with a rainy weather, which fortunately stopped the next day. However, the cold temperatures and strong winds showed us that this city is not the right one if you are a summer person. Nevertheless, we did not surrender and managed to explore the city, go sightseeing and even shopping, which ended in burning and exhausted legs but it was definitely worth it!

Most of the talks I went to were really informative and inspiring. Today I went to a talk on creativity in the classroom and how you can teach your pupils to think creatively. Contrary to common belief, this is not a question of whether your pupils are creative or not, it is rather connected to what kind of speech we use in class. For example, if we ask our pupils to describe a picture, they do not get the chance to be creative – they simply say what they see. If we, however, show them a picture of an unknown tool and ask them to think about five situations in which they might use such a tool, they would have to be creative in order to complete the task. Therefore, we can easily train our pupils to thinks creatively by asking the right questions. 

Another very useful talk I went to was dedicated to creating pronunciation board games. The great thing about board games is that everyone likes playing them – young learners, teenagers and even adults. And it’s really simple to turn a regular board game into a pronunciation board game. Those of you who have done the course “Advanced Pronunciation for Teachers” with our professor Ulla Fürstenberg know what I am talking about 🙂

If you want to know more about that Louise Guyett has a blog on this topic called: practicalpronunciation.org – check it out!

Finally, I have to admit that being a student at this conference is really fun. I also have to say that we have to thank our teachers, Ulla Fürstenberg, Elke Beder-Hubmann and Sarah Mercer, for this popularity. We are the only students at this conference and wherever we appear people seem to be going crazy with praise – and I am just thinking: “What did we do? We just came here to listen to experienced teachers and learn from them.” I am very thankful that we got the chance to participate in this huge event, where not only issues of ELT but also existing problems in the real world are being addressed. I have learnt that we (teachers) are all in this together, that we have similar problems and visions and that we can make a difference in our classrooms, but also in the real world outside the school! 

Here a photo from our sightseeing tour 🙂

I wonder…

Before I came to Glasgow, I wondered what the city would be like. I wondered whether the weather was going to be too cold. I wondered what kind of people I would meet. I wondered about a lot of things…

But I never thought of getting the chance to  listen to so many inspiring and intelligent teachers, who turn language teaching into a breathtaking journey that lasts for a lifetime. One of these teachers is J.J. Wilson who held the plenary talk yesterday. For me, his talk was the highlight of my stay in Glasgow. He reminded me why I decided to start the teacher training education a couple of years ago. 

The topic of his talk was social justice. You might ask yourself right now: “What on earth does this have to do with English language teaching?” – well, let me explain it to you. During this whole week, we have heard numerous times, that the most important part of language teaching are the pupils or students themselves. Creating strong relationships to them, which are based od trust, honesty and respect is fundamental to any kind of teaching and learning. If we do not want to engage with our pupils in the classroom, well, then no learning will take place and we will not fulfill our job. This means, that if we do show interest in them and connect emotionally with them, we will not only achieve better results in their learning, but we will also learn with them and share positive feelings and experiences. 

Once we have managed to do that, we can go one step further – we can adress problems that exist thrughout the world and try to find solutions for them together with our pupils. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that we have to solve the worldwide problem of water shortages in our English classes – no, but we can show our pupils that it does matter what we do in this world and that we can change it, step by step. We have to start in our own surroundings, our own lives – first, we have to change ourself, before we step out into the world and make it a better place. Given the fact that we, teacher, actually have the future in our hand, sitting in our classrooms, it would be a shame, if we did not use the opportunity to change the world together. If we start with changing the world from our classroom, one day our pupils will step out and change the world on their own. 

J.J. Wilson showed us in a very fascinating manner that this is not difficult. We do not have to look at rich Hollywood stars, who donate millions of dollars to charity organisations. We simply have to act regionally. Think about where waste is deposited in your town – are there maybe better ways to re-use the waste? Have you seen people being oppressed in your town because they look different, because they think differently or because they have an alternative lifestyle? Address those issues in your class and make your pupils aware of these problems – they might surprise you with their opinions and solutions!

Communication involves much more than simply talking to people in a certain language. It also includes living with them, sharing concerns and ideas and beyond everything interacting with each other and with our world. Therefore, I am convinced that addressing the problems of our generation should have a fixed place in language classes. 

Now I wonder how many teachers like J.J. Wilson there are in the world? I say, there can never be enough of them!

Bye bye Graz ;)

Full of motivation and enjoying the sun, we boarded the tiny, little plane in Graz. Now, more than 12 hours later, we’re desperately looking for some rest in rainy Glasgow. After this eventful journey and a pint of cider, we’re now ready to call it a day. x Julia, Marcella, Ivona 

Just a few more days..

I am really excited about the IATEFL Conference in Glasgow. I have never been to Scotland and I am looking forward to getting to know the Scottish culture, food, people..

I wish I could clone myself in order to be able to attend all the talks and workshops at the Conference. It is really hard to choose from the enormous program, but I will try to get the most of it. It’s amazing to get the chance to hear all those brilliant people talking about their experiences in ELT. As a future teacher, I hope to learn new methods and approaches I can use in the future. I can hardly wait untill Monday!